Fury at Smugglers' Bay is directed, produced and written by John Gilling. It stars Peter Cushing, Bernard Lee, John Fraser, Michèle Mercier, William Franklyn and George Coulouris. Out of Regal Films International with music scored by Harold Geller and Eastman Color/Panascope photography by Harry Waxman.
18th century England on the Cornish coast and a fearsome band of Wreckers are luring ships on to the rocks so as to plunder the cargo.
There was a mini pirate/smuggler/swashbuckler based film revival in early 60s Britain, John Gilling was a key player in that revival. Sadly this, one of the first to show its face, is a mundane and schizophrenic piece. The story is safe enough, where a village indulges in "light" smuggling but come under threat by "big boy baddies" who prefer to cause carnage as well. Into the mix comes hidden secrets, forbidden passions and kidnap. It should be a recipe for good period costume malarkey, but Gilling, who was capable of excellent work (see The Flesh & the Fiends/The Reptile), provides a poor script and unimaginative direction. It's also sad to see the great Peter Cushing turn in a half hearted performance, but again much of that can be attributed to the script that fails to give his character any meaty purpose, with the big "secret" at the core of plotting about as weak as it gets.
Irritation is further compounded by the look and sound of the picture. For interiors we do get good period flavours, with the costumes (Phyllis Dalton) and colour lensing feeling authentic, but once the picture goes outside, which is for most of the run time, it loses the feel. The day for night blueness for night sequences dulls the viewing and Waxman's photography around the locale, which is not Cornwall but Abereiddy in Wales, sadly looks like it's 1960 and not 1789. Waxman (Twisted Nerve/The Wicker Man) was a very good cinematographer, but his work here represents a big fail. The editing (John Victor-Smith) is off, where characters sort of mill about in the narrative without achieving anything, and Geller doesn't know if he is scoring a comedy or a period drama!
There's some value in watching a pre-James Bond franchise Bernard Lee belching and brooding, while the finale is certainly rousing enough. Yet it looks and plays cheap, something that the similar genre films out of Hammer Productions didn't suffer from, in spite of the same budget restrictions. It's noted that the original cut of the film was around 92 minutes, where now it runs at just 82. The missing 10 minutes may have helped the flow of the story, but it's highly doubtful it would improve the film as a whole. 5/10